Javid resigns and Leadsom and Villiers sacked in cabinet reshuffle

Written by Beckie Smith on 13 February 2020 in News
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Business, environment and Northern Ireland secreataries sacked in reshuffle but departmental changes fail to materialise

Sajid Javid with Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

The chancellor, Sajid Javid, has resigned in a surprise move as prime mininster Boris Johnson undertakes the long-anticipated post-Brexit reshuffle of governemnt ministers. 

Javid became the highest-profile casualty of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle this morning, in which business secretary Andrea Leadsom and environment secretary Theresa Villers were sacked.

The prime minister, reportedly offered Javid the option of staying on at the exchequer on the condition that he fire all of his special advisers – but was turned down.


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He had been set to deliver his first Budget as chancellor next month.

There have been reports in recent weeks of an increasingly strained relationship between Javid and Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior political adviser. Cummings, who fired Javid’s adviser Sonia Khan last year following an investigation into leaks from the government, is believed to have called for the replacement of Treasury spads with advisers chosen by No.10.

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom and environment secretary Theresa Villers are among a handful of ministers to have lost their posts in a cabinet reshuffle today – which is shaping up to be less dramatic than expected.

Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith was also sacked this morning, just a few months after he helped to secure a power-sharing deal that ended a nearly three-year stalemate, as was attorney general Geoffrey Cox.

The Department for Transport lost two of its ministers, George Freeman and Nusrat Ghani, while housing minister Esther McVey and science minister Chris Skidmore announced they would be leaving their respective posts at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

As expected, culture secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan stepped down from her post, where she stayed despite resigning as an MP in December. She told Bloomberg it had been her decision to step down.

New appointments and promotions are expected to be announced this afternoon.

However, the reshuffle appears to have been less wide-ranging than previously expected. Before Christmas it was reported that Boris Johnson was planning a major reshuffle in February, following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Briefings from No.10 insiders also suggested that several machinery of government changes could be in the pipeline – which could see the Department for International Development subsumed into the Foreign Office and the Home Office lose responsibility for issuing visas.

However, more recent reports that these plans had been scaled back appear to have been borne out, with no departmental changes announced at the time of publication.

Today’s reshuffle follows a limited reshuffle in December, a few days after the general election, in which saw Jeremy Quin move to the Cabinet Office as Simon Hart became Welsh secretary.

Morgan, who had been expected to leave her cabinet post after resigning as an MP at the election, was made a Conservative peer and stayed on in her post. She told the Guardian at the time that Johnson wanted to "keep changes to a minimum" in the first few weeks of the new government, while No.10 hinted that she would only stay on until this month's reshuffle.

Announcing her departure from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs after just seven months, Villiers said she was “proud” it had published the environment, agriculture and fisheries bills under her leadership.

“I thank my ministers, spads and officials at Defra for all the incredible support they have given me. They are an outstanding team,” she said in a long Facebook post.

Leadsom also thanked the civil servants in her department, saying said it had been a "real privilege to serve in government for the last six years" – during which time she has also been leader of the House of Commons and environment secretary.

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Beckie Smith
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Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets @Beckie__Smith

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